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Are Kids Overprescribed Psychiatric Medications?

Are Kids Overprescribed Psychotropic Medications? A sure-to-be-controversial new study suggests psychotropic medications are overused in children.

James P. Morris, Ph.D. and George Stone, LCSW contend that one in every 50 Americans is now considered permanently disabled by mental illness, and up to eight million children take one or more psychotropic drugs.

They state that there is little evidence available to warrant the widespread use of psychotropic drugs for children, and little data regarding its long-term impact on development.

According to the authors, the mental health field is currently designed to treat adults with psychotropic medications, but they are often misused in the case of children and adolescents,

“This presents an ethical challenge to marriage and family therapists, who should be very cautious about these medications as an option for children. The long-term research on their safety for children is uncertain.”

The article is found in found in the Journal of Marital & Family Therapy.

As an example, the diagnosis of early-onset bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has climbed drastically in the past decade.

Drugs designed to treat the above two disorders show a fair short-term risk-benefit ratio, but a poor long-term benefit.

Morris and Stone indicate, “If the psychiatric community has been misled by pharmaceutical companies in thinking that these drugs are safe for their children, the parents of these children have been in turn deluded into putting their children in harm’s way.”

The authors continue that the pharmaceutical industry is largely influenced by the desire for economic profit, and the marketing muscle behind the industry, and leniency of institutions such as the FDA, tout benefits that are not yet properly evaluated for pediatric use.

Between 1994 and 2001, psychotropic prescriptions for adolescents rose more than 60 percent; the rise post-1999 was connected to the development and marketing of several new psychotropic drugs and the rebranding of several older ones.

Morris and Stone claim that family health professionals are put in the line of fire when children begin to experience the negative consequences of long-term use of these medications.

They are left with the challenge of evaluating the quality of evidence-based care offered to their pediatric clients by the psychiatric community, and the negative effects of the medications without sufficient empirical evidence or information.

Source: Wiley

Are Kids Overprescribed Psychiatric Medications?

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Are Kids Overprescribed Psychiatric Medications?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 21 Apr 2010)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.